Blessing One: Not Associating with Fools
G.2 Metaphor: Leaves wrapping a stinking fish
Another parable used by the Lord Buddha is that of the leaves wrapping a putrid fish taking on the same putrescent smell of the fish itself.
G.3 Metaphor: Burning hovel next to a palace
Our ancestors had a parable. They said that to associate with a fool, no matter how good we might originally be, is like building a palace next door to a hovel. Whenever the hovel catches fire, no matter how safe the palace is from fire, as soon as the hovel goes up in flames the palace burns down as well, just like the virtuous person destroyed by association with fools.
G.4 Mahakassapa’s Kuti Burn Down by Foolish Student
(Kutidussaka Jataka J.iii.71)
In the time of the Lord Buddha, there was an elder monk of unblemished virtue named Kassapa. He was respected by all of the enlightened monks and other members of the monastic community. Even the Lord Buddha’s closest disciple Ananda had great respect for Ven. Kassapa.
It was the norm for the elder monks of the community to accept newly-ordained monks as their disciples, in order that those new monks could receive training. Some of the elders accepted more than others in keeping with their ability as teachers.
Ven. Kassapa accepted three or four disciples but it turned out that among their number was a stubborn monk, Ulunkasaddaka who would listen to no one’s advice. On winter evenings it was the duty of the disciples to boil water for the elder monks so they to take a bath in comfort. The stubborn disciple would never boil water for Ven.Kassapa in accordance with his duty. He would always leave the chore of boiling the water to his fellows while going himself to invite Ven. Kassapa to wash as if he had boiled the water himself.
Everything else the stubborn disciple did was in the same vain. Instead of going on alms rounds, if he fancied something special to eat the stubborn monk would claim to temple supporters that Ven. Kassapa wanted such-and-such to eat and when they brought such-and-such a food to offer, he would eat it himself.
Ven. Kassapa knew what was going on and warned the stubborn monk, to be so lacking in respect is not in keeping with having been ordained as a monk. You must train yourself better than this in the future.” Kassapa warned the stubborn monk continuously, but the only effect of the criticism was to make him feel as if his master was singling him out unfairly for criticism. The more advice he received from his master, the more victimized he felt. Instead of feeling grateful for all the special attention his master had given him, he planned on getting his revenge. He planned the following day that instead of going out on alms round with the rest of the disciples for the master’s breakfast, he’d stay behind, let the master go for alms round himself, and burn down the master’s Kuti while he was gone. In this case, it is clear to see the behavior of a fool who repays a master’s advice given with the best of intentions, by burning down his master’s house. Ven.Kassapa came back from his alms round to find only ashes where his Kuti had stood. The disciple had run away.
The Lord Buddha heard the story and disclosed it to Ven. Kassapa that the stubborn disciple had been a fool causing damage not only in this lifetime but in previous lifetimes as well:
In that previous lifetime, Kassapa had been born as an oriole while the stubborn monk had been born as a monkey. The two inhabited the same tree. The oriole wanted to waste no time in building a nest to protect itself from sun, rain, and dust — but at the same time the oriole warned the monkey, he ought to build himself a nest against wind and rain, sun and dust, because he had perfect gripping hands like a man, and could build a nest even more easily than the bird with her beak. The oriole told the monkey to build its own nest again and again but the monkey never took any notice. When it came to the monsoon, the oriole ducked into the shelter of its nest whenever it rained, while the monkey sat out in the rain sobbing. The oriole felt sorry for the monkey and thought the time had come to tell the monkey to build a nest. Perhaps now that he’d had a good soaking he’d see the value of the advice. Thus the oriole poked its head out of its nest and told the monkey,” you ought to build
yourself a nest against wind and rain, sun and dust, because you have perfect gripping hands like a man, you can build a nest even more easily than I can with my beak. As soon as the rain stops build yourself a nest.”
The monkey replied, ”If I wanted to build a nest I could build one easily — but even though my body is like that of a man, my intelligence is the lesser.”
”You’re a strange case,” said the oriole. “Some days you go around destroying the nests of others but when it comes to the monsoon, you’re the only one without a roof over your head. This is the destiny of one ungrateful for the generosity of others. You had better start improving yourself!”
The monkey was stirred to anger by the criticism. Soaked to the skin by rain and only insulted further by a bird from inside the comfort of a dry nest, the monkey climbed up the tree to the oriole’s nest and pulled the nest to pieces.
As a monkey, he had pulled the oriole’s nest to pieces. As a human, he put his own master’s Kuti to the flame, even though his master had spoken only kind words. These are the identifying features of a fool and are the reason why we have to beware of this type of person.
Blessing Two: Associating with the Wise
H.1 Metaphor: Leaves wrapping a perfumed fish
A parable used by the Lord Buddha is that of the leaves wrapping a perfumed fish taking on the same perfume as the fish itself.
H.2 Red-Bearded Executioner saved by Association with the Wise (DhA.ii.203)
Tambadathika who was a former thief had served the king as the public executioner for fifty-five years; and had just retired from that post. One day, he went to the river for a bath, intending to take some specially prepared food on his return home. As he was about to take the food, Venerable Sariputta, who had just arisen from sustained absorption in concentration [jhana samapatti], stood at his door for alms food. Seeing the monk Tambadathika thought to himself, “Throughout my life, I have been executing thieves; now I should offer this food to the monk.” So, he invited Sariputta to come in and respectfully offered the food.
After the meal, Sariputta taught him the Dhamma, but Tambadathika could not pay attention, because he was extremely disturbed as he recollected his past career as an executioner. This mental disturbance did not allow him to concentrate properly. Sariputta knew this, and in order to put him in a proper frame of mind, he asked
Tambadathika tactfully whether he killed the thieves because he wished to kill them out of anger or hate, or simply because he was ordered to do so. Tambadathika answered that he was ordered to kill them by the king and that he had no ill will or wish to kill. ‘If that is the case,’ Sariputta asked, ‘What wrong did you do?’
Thus re-assured, his mind became calmer and he requested Sariputta to continue his sermon. As he listened to the Dhamma attentively, his mind became tranquil and he developed the virtues of patience and understanding. After the discourse, Tambadathika accompanied Sariputta for some distance and then returned home. On his way home he died due to an accident.
When the Buddha came to the congregation of the bhikkhus in the evening, they informed him about the death of Tambadathika. When asked where Tambadathika was reborn, the Buddha told them that although Tambadathika had committed evil deeds throughout his life, because he comprehended the Dhamma, he was reborn in the Tusita deva world. The bhikkhus wondered how such an evil-doer could have a great benefit after listening to the Dhamma just once. To them, the Buddha said that the length of discourse is of no consequence, for one single sentence of the Dhamma, correctly understood can produce many benefits.
Expressing Respect to Those Worthy of Respect
F.1 Metaphor: Small sapling with supporting stake
When a new-grown tree is still a flimsy sapling, it needs a supporting stake to protect it against strong winds — otherwise, it will be blown down or torn up by its roots. Similarly, one who hopes for spiritual progress in one’s life needs to express respect to those worthy of respect — to keep a place for those people in one’s heart — so that those people can be a guiding light and an example, and protection against False Views and unwholesomeness which might otherwise reappear in one’s life.
F.5 Ex. Pañcapapa pays homage with resentment
There is one more illustrator example — that of Pañcapapa. This name means ‘five types of evil’ and is the name given to this particular woman by her father. The reason for such an inauspicious name was that the child was born defective with gnarled hands, lame feet, a squint mouth, squint eyes, and a crooked nose. None of her bodily organs were in symmetry. Her hands went one way and her feet went another.
Although the child was repulsively ugly, she had one attractive point — her skin was soft like that of an angel. Because of her one good point, Pañcapapa was to become the queen of the country later in life. When she was in the royal palace as one of the royal consorts, her skin was so soft that the king forgot all the other women in the palace. The other consorts were so jealous that they framed her so that the king had to float her away on a raft downstream. But as soon as she reached the next kingdom, all it took was one touch for the king there to take her as his queen. Everybody was so astonished that a woman so physically deformed could come to be the queen of two kingdoms that someone asked the Lord Buddha how this could come to be.
The Lord Buddha looked back at her previous lifetimes and discovered that the woman had made an offering to a Paccekabuddha but the offering was made out of anger. On that day, the woman was shoring up the wall of her house with mud. A
Paccekabuddha also needed mud to build his Kuti and seeing that the woman had more than enough mud came to bowl in hand to ask for some of the mud. The woman was reluctant to give away any of her mud but gave the Paccekabuddha some anyway. Out of anger, she threw a clod of mud into the Paccekabuddha’s bowl. At the time she was scowling, with her eyebrows knitted together, her feet stamping the ground and shaking a fist at the Paccekabuddha. The result of her reluctant good deed in future rebirths was that her stamping feet were lame, the hand which threw the mud was gnarled, and her scowling face was deformed beyond recognition. The good part of her deed, the generosity, still gave its fruit — because the mud which built the Kuti which helped shelter the Paccekabuddha from the rain gave her angelic complexion. But this could not diminish the bad part of the deed which was not being polite to those worthy of respect.
J.v.440ff., KuÁala JAtaka (J.536)
Thus, in conclusion, not paying respect to those worthy of respect, or not having faith in those who ought to inspire faith clouds the mind, and the extension of this ultimately to becoming a fool.
Living in an Amenable Location
D1. Metaphor: Bonsai Bodhi Tree
It is said that if you plant a tree in fertile soil, it will grow until it is many meters in diameter. If you take the same tree and plant it in a flower pot or a barrel, it will end up as a root-bound bonsai tree instead. Even if it is watered and carefully tended for several generations it will never grow higher than a few inches. Asked why a thousand-year-old tree reaches only a few inches in height, we come back to the conclusion that it has been planted in an unamenable location. Even though it doesn’t grow tall, it doesn’t die.
D.4 Ex. Ghosaka’s lifetime as a dog
Another example of a similar phenomenon happened in a time before the Lord Buddha. At that time, the only Buddhas in existence were Paccekabuddhas who although enlightened, were unable to teach for the benefit of many folks. These Paccekabuddhas came on alms round in the city. Having collected alms, they would return to the forest to take their meal. This would be his normal daily routine. Seeing that the Paccekabuddha had to walk such a long way each day, one of the more faithful supporters invited the Paccekabuddha to dwell nearby his own house and would bring food for the Paccekabuddha every for every morning and midday meal.
Any day when the householder was not free to make the offering himself, he would send his well-trained dog to carry a tiffin set of food to offer to the Paccekabuddha at his place. As the dog grew more familiar with the Paccekabuddha it took a liking to Him because the deportment and manner of the Paccekabuddha was so gentle. If the dog was at home and failed to mind firewood for its master it would be beaten. However, in the dwelling of the Paccekabuddha, it was a different story. When the dog came close he could listen to the chanting of the Paccekabuddha. There was no risk of being beaten and the Paccekabuddha would even divide part of the food to give to the dog as well. The dog became more and more familiar with the gentle manner of the Paccekabuddha.
At the end of the rainy season, the Paccekabuddha bid the householder farewell and returned to the forest. The Paccekabuddha made his journey by floating through the air. The dog watched the Paccekabuddha go with regret and howled as loudly as it could because there was nothing else for it to do. It was a sad farewell for the dog who still had the Paccekabuddha on its mind. The dog was so sad that as it came to the end of its howling, it dropped dead. However, as the result of the faith of this dog in the Paccekabuddha and from howling at the departure of the Paccekabuddha, the dog was reborn immediately as an angel called Ghosaka — whose duty was to be a spokesman for the rest of the angels.
In the time of the Lord Buddha, Ghosaka was reborn in the human realm as Ghosaka the Millionaire and was one of the greatest patrons of Buddhism. The result of living in an amenable location and taking the chance to be an attendant to a Paccekabuddha led him to become an angel on dying from rebirth as a dog and from his rebirth as an angel to be reborn as an important patron of Buddhism.
Thus, it is easy to see that simply living in an amenable location is not just advantageous for people — even lowly animals can experience the benefits!
Having done good deeds in one’s past
F1. Metaphor: Merit in the Past – Pedigree
The nature of the differences is not the same as the pot-bound bonsai of the previous Blessing. It is not caused by the environment— the difference lies within the person himself — it is a personal attribute that differs in strength from one person to another. Compare a wild strawberry with a domestic breed of strawberry. You can water and fertilize a wild strawberry all you like, but in the end, it will only produce a lot of leaves and a few tiny bitter fruits. By contrast, a domestic strain, even if neglected will produce numerous succulent fruits.
The difference is a factor that belongs to the plant itself. With plants, it is the pedigree, but with people, it is the residue of the behaviors they have built up for themselves in the past — not a reputation because that needs a third party to remember it — it is something they build up inside them whether they have witnesses for their behavior or not.
F2. Metaphor: Merit – Food for the Mind
All dynamic things in the world have fuel on which they feed. Fire burns on brushwood. A tree needs food, but the food that nourishes it is sucked up through the roots. The body burns on physical food. To get the food we need for our bodies we must find ourselves a job or a career. A light bulb burns on an electric current. Sometimes the energy is stored up in the object itself at a previous time (like the bulb of a daffodil or a car battery), sometimes the energy is used as it is obtained. All of these things must be provided with the fuel they need or else one day if the energy they have stored is exhausted, they will become useless or even die.
All of these objects have their own food or fuel to nourish them, but as meditators, the object we are most interested in is the mind. The mind too, must have food that can fuel its efficient activity, but what could possibly function as a sort of energy which the mind could store or use?
Indeed, the personal residue we are talking about has the special quality of being like food which nourishes the mind — so that the mind can, to its full potential attract good opportunities and things on all four levels of success mentioned above. If the mind is well fed it has repercussions for all the other levels too — sooner or later.
F3. Ex. Siri JAtaka(J.284)
The bodhisattva was once an ascetic and had an elephant trainer as a patron. A stick-gatherer, sleeping at night in the hermitage, heard two roosting cocks abusing each other. In the course of the quarrel, one cock boasted that whoever ate his flesh would be king, his skin commander in chief or chief queen, and his bones, royal treasurer or king’s chaplain. The man killed the cock and his wife cooked it, then taking it with them, they went to the river to bathe. They left the meat and rice on the bank, but as they bathed, the pot holding the food was blown into the river. It floated downstream where it was picked up by the elephant trainer. The bodhisattva saw everything with his divine eye and visited the trainer at mealtime. There he was offered the meat and divided it, giving the flesh to the trainer, the skin to his wife, and keeping the bones to himself. Three days later, the city was besieged by enemies.
The king asked the trainer to don royal robes and mount the elephant, while he himself fought in the ranks. There the king was killed by an arrow and the trainer, having won the battle, was made king, his wife being queen and the ascetic his chaplain. The story was told in reference to a Brahmin who tried to steal Anathapindika’s good fortune [siri]. He perceived that good fortune was embodied in a white cock for which he begged. Anathapindika gave it to him, but the good fortune left the cock and settled in a jewel. He asked for that also, but the good fortune went into a club. The club was also asked for, and Anathapindika giving it asked the Brahmin to take it and be gone. However, the good fortune now settled on Anathapindika’s wife. The Brahmin thereby admitted defeat and confessed his intentions to Anathapindika who told the story to the Buddha.
Setting oneself up properly in life
C.1 Metaphor: The boat must have a rudder
If the ship that must struggle to make a way in the ocean waves is to reach the far shore, its captain must have a clear destination in mind and keep the ship firmly on course, not allowing the ship to drift — no less important is an aim in life to those wishing to achieve success and profit in their lives.
C.2 Metaphor: The one-eyed sea turtle (S.v.455)
The Lord Buddha taught that the birth of someone as a human is as rare as the chance of a blind turtle in the ocean which surfaces for air once a century popping its head through the middle of the only flower garland which happens to be floating in the sea. The chance of a being which is a denizen of hell, an animal, a ghost or a demon attaining human birth is even slighter still. Therefore having obtained yourself a human birth make sure you make the best of your life.
C.3 Metaphor: Saving for the Future
Just as a wise merchant must keep aside some of his money for investment in the future, the wise man must keep aside some of his time for the practices that will allow him to renew his merit for future lifetimes. Just as the wise farmer keeps aside some of his rice crop for next year’s sowing, the wise man will take the opportunity while his old merit is still giving its fruit, to accrue new merit for use in future existences.
C.5 Ex. Akkosaka Bharadvaja Vatthu DhA.iv.161ff.
In the time of the Buddha, there was a Brahmin couple. The husband called was very strict in his Brahmin observances. He had never shown any interest in Buddhism. In Bharadvaja’s contrast, his wife was a person with no further doubt in Buddhism because she had heard one of the teachings of the Buddha and had become enlightened as a stream-enterer as the result.
One day the husband wanted to hold a feast for all the most high-standing Brahmins — worshipped as ‘Arahants’ in their religion. Thus the husband and wife started their elaborate preparations for the feast, but when it came close to the ‘big day because it was the habit of the wife always to exclaim ‘Buddho!’ whenever something surprised her, her husband appealed to her on the day of the feast not to mention anything about Buddhism or to say anything in praise of the Triple Gem. The wife said, “My mind is unified with the Dhamma, therefore whatever I say will also be Dhamma — there is nothing you can do to stop my mind from being that way!”
“And what about if I take a sword and cut you into small pieces — will that help you to educate your mind?”
“Even if you were to make mincemeat of me,” said the wife, “I could not help myself from having the Dhamma as my refuge!”
The husband didn’t know what more to say — so they got on with the work of providing the feast. Everything went well until the wife slipped over on a pile of spilled rice. She exclaimed, “Namo tassabhagavato arahato
Everyone present heard the wife’s exclamation. The assembled Brahmins were angered by what they heard. When they received the invitation, they understood that the wife had respect for them. Now they had found out that she respected not them but the Buddha. They were especially angry because they were opposed to
everything the Buddha did. Those who had finished their meal immediately stood up and shouted insults at the couple. Those who had not finished eating overturned every plate of food on the table. They stamped their feet and walked out on the couple.
The husband was so angry he didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t do anything to punish his wife — so he thought to take out his anger on his wife’s teacher — the Buddha himself. He buckled on his sword and turned in the direction of the Jetavana monastery with the intention to put an end to the Buddha and his teachings. The
husband walked straight up to the Buddha without paying respect and in his anger shouted the rhetorical question at the Buddha, “Do you know what a man has to kill in order to get a good night’s sleep…?”
The Brahmin thought that putting an end to the Buddha was the only way he could save face and sleep soundly that night. Without waiting for an answer, the Brahmin continued, “… and what a man has to kill to cure his sorrow?”
And still, without waiting for an answer, the Brahmin asked the Buddha, “. . . and so what form of killing would you support?”
The Buddha knew what was on the mind of the Brahmin and coolly answered the first question with the words, “A man must kill his anger in order to get a good night’s sleep. If you don’t kill your anger, you will do things that you regret later, being put in prison or punished — but if you kill your anger, you don’t need to undergo the sorrowful consequences of your angry deeds. The Noble Ones praise the killing of anger — whose root is poison and whose crown is sweet.”
When the Buddha said that the root of anger is poisonous, he meant that anger has suffered as its result. When he said that the crown is sweet, he meant that we get a strange, twisted satisfaction out of expressing our anger to others or losing our temper.
After hearing only these few words, Bharadavaja was impressed. He was impressed that the Buddha was not angry in response to his anger. He had prepared his sword to chop the Buddha to pieces at the first unwelcome word, but instead of hearing anything to irritate him further, the Brahmin had been impressed by every one of the Buddha’s reasoning. He threw away his sword and invited the Buddha to teach him further. In the end, he was motivated to practice the Dhamma further and ended up ordained as a monk.
Killing your anger is one way of setting yourself up in life. To ordain as the result of teaching is to set yourself up in faith, in the Precepts, in Wisdom, or in Meditation. It was in this intense way that Bharadavaja set himself up in life, and before long could practice until attaining Arahantship.
Artfulness in Knowledge
F.1 Metaphor: Lamp lighting the path for a long journey ahead
Just as illumination is necessary to light the path ahead on a long journey, artfulness in knowledge is the pioneering virtue leading to prosperity in life.
F.3 Ex. Mahasutasoma Jataka (J.537)
There was a certain Buddha who while pursuing Perfections as the bodhisattva, was born as a king called Mahasutasoma. The king was so keen to learn new teachings of the Dhamma that he would invite anyone who had knowledge of the Dhamma to come and teach him in the palace. On one occasion, Mahasutasoma was captured by an ogre. The ogre was going to put him to death. On just the day the ogre was going to collect him, it was also the day when he had made an appointment with a knowledgeable Brahmin Nanda to teach some teachings left over from the Kassapa Buddha. In that day and age, there were no living teachings to be followed anymore. There were no monks left anymore. Later even if the king offered the prize of a heap of gold as tall as the person to give the teaching, there would still be no one who had any teaching to give the king. Even if the king offered the prize of a heap of diamonds as tall as an elephant, still nobody could be found to give a teaching to
the teacher. However, in the time of king Mahasutasoma, the decay of Buddhism was not so much that there were no teachings left anymore. The day when the king was to be captured, someone had accepted an invitation to come and give a teaching in the palace. On that day, out of respect for the Dhamma, the king had first gone to freshen up and change into a new set of clothes in preparation for hearing the Dhamma. It was as he was washing that he was captured. The king made a deal with the ogre that it could do with him as it liked, but it should first let him listen to the teaching of the Dhamma because he had already made an appointment with the teacher who was coming. The king promised the ogre that after hearing the teaching he would allow it to take him away for sacrifice. Even though the people of that time didn’t know about the Precepts, they still knew about the importance of truthfulness. The king was allowed to return to the palace where the Brahmin was waiting. The Brahmin didn’t even know how to explain the Dhamma, all he could do was read out a piece of the scriptures. The Brahmin also had to wash before giving the teaching. He rinsed his hands with perfume before picking up the scriptures.
He bowed three times to the scriptures and only then did he open up the scriptures in the most careful possible way. The subject matter of the scriptures was the words of a previous Buddha. The Brahmin could read the words and translate them, but he didn’t know the meaning:
Associating with the noble ones just once,
One can be protected by that contact for the rest of one’s life.
However, associating with fools even many times,
Will fail to protect you for the rest of your life.
If you associate with the noble ones,
You should associate with them closely,
Because anyone who can learn the virtues of a noble one,
Will know only prosperity and never know decay.
Even a royal chariot that is beautifully decorated,
Must eventually deteriorate and decay,
In the same way the body that we possess
Must eventually decay and die.
However, the Virtue of the Noble Ones
Never goes out of date and never decays.
It is only the Noble Ones together
Who can know each other’s minds?
The earth and sky are far apart.
The two sides of the ocean are far apart.
But they are not so far apart,
As the behavior of the nobles and of fools.
Before putting the scriptures away, the Brahmin bowed to them again. Hearing just these teachings, the king was so moved that he cried tears of joy. The king asked the Brahmin, “Usually when you read this scripture to other kings, how much do they give you?”
The Brahmin replied, “They give me a hundred for each verse.”
“These verses are not a ‘hundred a verse’ but are a ‘thousand a verse’” said the king, and presented the Brahmin with five thousand.
The king remembered the appointment he had made with the ogre and thought to himself, “If I were to break my promise, it would only make my mind dull and guilty and I would certainly have an unfortunate afterlife destination — better that I go to my death with that ogre while my mind is still radiant from having heard the Dhamma.” The king gave himself up to the ogre. The ogre was surprised that the king didn’t show any sign of fearing death. It asked the king why he had no fear of death. When the king told them the Dhamma he had learned, the ogre was so impressed that it asked to take refuge in the king as its teacher and had no more thought about sacrificing him.
Artfulness in Application
D2. Metaphor: Just as twigs . . .
If you plant a mango tree, the benefit you get from it depends entirely on the amount of fruit. Even though the tree might grow a trunk, branches, and leaves — these are no more than precursors for any benefit which may come later. In the same way, even though a person may be learned, this knowledge is no more than a precursor for the benefit that can accrue if the knowledge is applied.
D.3 Ex. Swimology (traditional)
Once a young professor was making a sea voyage. He was a highly educated man with a long tail of letters after his name, but he had little experience with life. In the crew of the ship on which he was traveling was an illiterate old sailor. Every evening the sailor would visit the cabin of the young professor to listen to him hold forth on many different subjects. He was very impressed with the learning of the young man.
One evening as the sailor was about to leave the cabin after several hours of conversation, the professor asked, “Old man, have you studied geology?”
“What is that, sir?”
“The science of the earth.”
“No sir, I have never been to any school or college. I have never studied anything.”
“Old man, you have wasted a quarter of your life.”
With a long face, the old sailor went away. “If such a learned person says so, certainly it must be true,” he thought. “I have wasted a quarter of my life.”
The next evening again, as the sailor was about to leave the cabin, the professor asked him, “Old man, have you studied oceanography?”
“What is that, sir?”
“The science of the sea.”
“No, sir, I have never studied anything.”
“Old man, you have wasted half your life.”
With a still longer face, the sailor went away: “I have wasted half my life; this learned man says so.”
The next evening again as the sailor was about to leave the cabin, “Old man, have you studied meteorology?”
“What is that, sir? I have never heard of it.”
“The science of the wind, the rain, the weather.”
“No sir. As I told you, I have never been to any school. I have never studied anything.”
“You have not studied the science of the earth on which you live; you have not studied the science of the sea on which you earn your livelihood; you have not studied the science of the weather which you encounter every day? Old man, you have wasted three-quarters of your life.”
The old sailor was very unhappy: “This learned man says that I have wasted three-quarters of my life! Certainly, I must have wasted three-quarters of my life.
The next day it was the turn of the old sailor. He came running to the cabin of the young man and cried, “Professor! Have you studied swimology?”
“Swimology? What do you mean?”
“Can you swim, sir?”
“No, I don’t know how to swim.”
“Professor! You have wasted the whole of your life!
The ship has struck a rock and is sinking. Those who can swim may reach the nearby shore, but those who cannot swim will drown. I am sorry, professor sir, you have surely lost your life.”
You may study all the “-ologies” of the world, but if you don’t learn swimology, all your studies are useless. You may read and write books on swimming, and you may debate its subtle theoretical aspects, but how will that help if you refuse to enter the water yourself? You must learn how to swim.
Artfulness in Usage
E1. Metaphor: Vinaya to knowledge is as a scabbard to a sword
Even if you have theoretical knowledge and experience, you need to have an extra virtue to protect you from using that knowledge in the wrong way — that virtue is self-discipline. Without self-discipline, you will apply your knowledge to do immoral things. The people of old had sayings that: “If a sharp sword lacks a scabbard, it can harm even the owner. If a hand grenade lacks a firing pin it can kill even the owner. A person of knowledge and experience can come to an unfortunate end if he lacks self-discipline”
E.2 Metaphor: The value of clay is in the value of the mold
The people of old remarked that a humble lump of clay in the middle of a field is a strange thing. Unshaped, in the middle of that field, it is without worth. However, if you put it into molds of various sorts, it acquires worth depending on the nature of the mold. If you put the clay in the mold for a plate or a cup when it comes out of the mold, it has acquired some value — it is something you can use on the table. If you put it into the mold for a doll, then the resulting doll is of value and can be used to decorate the house. If you put the clay into the mold for a Buddha image, the clay is suddenly transformed into something superior to household use, but something to be the object of respect for all who see it. Thus you can see that the better the mold you subject the clay to, the more value it acquires. When we come to talk about people instead of clay, we find that in the same way, the thing that gives people their value is the self-discipline they abide by. The greater the degree of self-discipline, the more they are worth.
Artfulness in Speech
D.1 Metaphor: A fish lives & dies because of its mouth
A fish can have long life depending on its mouth which it uses to feed. However, because of the selfsame mouth and its greed for bait, it swallows the hook which brings its life to an end. In the same way, if we use our mouth for artful speech, it can bring us success and prosperity in life, but sometimes even a word of unwholesome speech from the same mouth can cost us our lives.
D.2 Metaphor: It is not just knowing the right thing to say
A smart person is not a person who knows when to say the right thing — they must also know when to keep their silence. A knowledge of the things not to be said is more important for an artful speaker, even more than a knowledge of the things to be said.
D.5Ex. Mamsa Jataka (J.315)
There were once four sons of a millionaire who wanted to compare their skills of persuasion and competed with each other in asking for meat from the cart of a butcher. When the four brothers saw the butcher’s cart they thought to themselves that they would like to eat some meat and they decided to see who could persuade the butcher to give them some meat.
The first son shouted out to the butcher, “Hey butcher! Bring me some meat!” The butcher was a kindly man and he said “Of course but because your words are not sweet to my ears” he threw the boy some trotters. Everybody asked him why he gave the boy trotters and he replied that trotters are tough and have no taste just like the words of the one who had requested them.
The second son said, “My brother! Please give me some of your meat to eat.” Because the second son had the respect to call him his brother then he cut off some choice meat to give to him.
The third son said, “Oh my father! Please give me some of your meat to eat.” Because the third son had the respect to call him his father he cut the heart out of an ox to give to him.
The fourth son said, “My friend! Please give me some of your meat to eat.” The butcher heard his words and felt pleased. He said that when our ages are so similar like this, it is closest to the truth to say that we are friends. To call me ‘father’ is too much. To call me ‘friend’ is the most appropriate. So with those words, he gave the whole of his cart to the fourth son. The fourth son was true to his word and took the butcher to his house. He said if you have this much generosity to me then I will be generous to you too — come and live here if you like — I have a reasonable amount of wealth to my name therefore if any of your friends are in distress just tell me and
I will help. Well, it turned out that the butcher had a few unpaid debts so he was able to pay all those off. The fourth son was a friend to the butcher for the rest of his life.
This is the benefit accrued to the fourth son who didn’t speak harshly, or patronizingly but appropriately to the truth of the situation.
Cherishing our parents
G.1 Metaphor: Parents as God [Brahma]
Our parents have been compared to our “God” or “Brahma” because they exhibit towards us all the underlying virtues exhibited by a God, i.e. the four Divine Abiding [brahmavihara]:
- Loving-kindness [metta]: parents have the limitless wish that their children should remove themselves from suffering in every respect.
- Compassion [karuna]: the parents make every effort to diminish the suffering of their children, never neglecting their child
- Sympathetic joy [mudita]: whenever the child experiences success or happiness, the parents are sincerely happy on their child’s part
- Equanimity [upekkha]: when the child has their parents no longer interfere. If the children make mistakes, the parents refrain from saying “I told you so”, but give their opinion when asked for it.
G.2 Metaphor: Parents as one’s first Guardian Angel
The parents are the first people known to the child to offer their protection to the child in every way
G.3 Metaphor: Parents as First Teacher
The parents are the first people known to the child to teach and train the child, whether it be how to walk or talk or how to cultivate good manners.
G.4 Metaphor: Parents as Arahant
The parents are the child’s Arahant because they have four qualities:
- They bring the child great benefit: The parents fulfill the challenging duty of caring for the child in every way — something it would be hard to find anyone else to do in their place.
- They command respect but are endearing: protecting the child from all dangers, they also manage to bring gentle warmth to the child’s life.
- They are the child’s field of merit: They have completely pure intentions towards their children, making them a worthy object for the child’s merit-making
- They are worthy of being bowed to: a child should express his respect for his parents by bowing or saluting them.
G.5 Metaphor: Gold plate vs. Solid Gold
Just as you can tell the difference between a gold-plated object and one that is solid gold by passing it through a flame, you can tell whether someone is truly virtuous by whether or not he cherishes his parents.
G.6 Proverb: Carrying one’s parents on one’s shoulders for 100 years
The Buddha taught that even if we were to carry our parents, one on each shoulder, for one hundred years, spoon-feeding them and allowing them to urinate and defecate on us, it would still be insufficient fully to repay our debt of gratitude to our parents.
G.7 Proverb: A skyful of parental praise
If we were to use Mount Sumeru as our pen and all the water of the ocean as our ink, even if we were to write the virtues of our parents in the sky until there was no place left to write, the mountain was worn down and the seawater dry, we would still not have reached an end of our parent’s virtues.
G.13 Orphan with a Debt to Pay (traditional)
There was once a woman on the streets who was with a child. By profession, she knew that if the child was born a boy, she would be unable to keep him. Her anxiety only increased day by day until at the end of nine months, her fears were realized. The newborn baby was a boy. Many times she took the baby to the river’s edge with the full intention to drown him and finish the whole business, but with tears in her eyes from having borne him in her womb for so long, she could not bring herself to do it. At the same time, she could not keep the child, or else she would destroy her livelihood. She left him in a bundle by the roadside with the thought that there might be some chance of a compassionate passer-by seeing the child and adopting him. The first passer-by that morning was the abbot from the local temple on his alms round. He spotted the baby and afraid that he starves, took him back to the temple. The abbot guessed how the baby had come to be there but in the absence of anyone coming to claim him back, provided all the food, shelter, clothing, and education the child needed to grow up to teenager. The boy could run and play with the other children and do everything expected of him but he had a chip on his shoulder and would run and hide if any of the others teased him for not having a mother and father. The boy would blame his unseen parents for the predicament in which he found himself. One day the abbot heard the boy complaining out loud about the parents who had abandoned him. The abbot thought, “The time has come to talk to this boy about his life.”
“If someone were to give you a dollar, would you curse him?” the abbot asked the boy.
“Of course not,” replied the boy, “I should bow to that person, or at least thank him and I would not forget my gratitude to him!”
“And if someone were to come along and offer you a dollar for your life would you take it?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t,” replied the boy indignantly. ”Do you think that’s all my life is worth?”
“Ten dollars then?”
“You must be joking!”
The abbot raised the sum to a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and a million dollars, but the boy would not part with his life. Asked why, the boy replied, “even a million dollars is useless if you have no life left to spend it.”
“Well, what about if someone were to come along and offer you a dollar to cut off your right arm? Would you take it?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t,” replied the boy indignantly. ”Do you think that’s all the integrity of my body is worth?”
“Ten dollars then?”
The abbot raised the sum to a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and a million dollars, but the boy would not part with his right arm. “Don’t you want to be a millionaire?” asked the abbot. The boy said, “Even a million dollars is no substitute for the loss of one’s physical integrity.”
“And if someone were to come along and offer you a dollar to cut off your little finger? Would you take it?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t,” replied the boy indignantly.
“Do you think you can put a price on part of the human body?”
“Ten dollars then?”
The abbot raised the sum to a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and a million dollars, but the boy would not part with his little finger.
Asked why, the boy said that even a million dollars could not replace the thing most precious to him — a healthy, human body.
“Just now you said that if someone gave you a dollar, you would thank him, bow to him and never forget your gratitude to him — yet your parents have given you your healthy, human body free, even the little finger of which you would not part with for a million dollars — how come you sit here cursing them for not having given you more?”
Blessing Twelve: Raising our children
C.1 Ex. Buddha passes on the legacy to his son
The person with the best human relations in the world must have been the Buddha. He taught his father King Suddhodana until he could become an arahant. He taught his wife Yasodhara until she could become an arahant also. His son Rahula also became an arahant. Rahula asked to inherit the treasures of his father. Instead of giving him the throne, he gave him the qualities of one free from defilement by having his child ordain from the age of seven.
All of the rest of his family and friends became arahants. His teachers died before he was able to teach them, but the group of five ascetics who had helped him in the past, all became arahants. Thus we must take a look at how he brought up his own children as well. What had the Buddha used to bring up his son to be so brilliant? He had given him the seven noble treasures [ariyadhana or bahukaradhamma] (D.iii.163, D.iii.267, A.iv.5):
- Faith [saddha] Believing in the things that are worthy of belief.
- Self-Discipline [sila]
- Shame of Evil [hiri]
- Fear of the consequences of Evil [ottappa]
- Knowledge [bahusacca]
- Self-Sacrifice [caga]
- Wisdom [pañña]
C.3 Ex. Anathapindika bribes his son to learn Dhamma
Anathapindika also had a son who was a troublemaker. He bribed his son to go to the temple. The son went to the temple and curled up and went to sleep there. He didn’t hear any teaching. As soon as he woke up he went home again to claim his prize. He got his prize and a new bribe — this time more — to go to the temple, listen to a sermon and remember one teaching well enough to relate to his father when he got home. If he could remember more than one teaching he would get more money. His father paid up each time and before long the son was going to the temple regularly. At first, the son was only interested in the money. Later, the teachings started to be absorbed into his heart. One day the Buddha saw that the son was becoming more ready to understand the Dhamma and so that day He taught a very difficult subject. The son tried his hardest to understand. Because the son’s mind was concentrated on only one thing then he could become a stream-enterer. That day when he went home and his father offered him the money he wouldn’t take it saying that he already had something more precious within himself.
Cherishing our husband or wife
D.1 Metaphor: Tongue & Teeth in close proximity
When chewing one’s food, if one’s teeth and tongue fail to cooperate, biting one’s tongue can be painful enough to bring tears to the eyes. In the same way, if a husband and wife fail to be helpful and understanding to one another, apart from making no progress in their married life, tears can be expected too in the long term.
D.4 Ex. Reluctant marriage: Mahakassapa (Ap.ii.583)
Kassapa was the son of a millionaire. His future wife was also the daughter of a millionaire. Each of them lived in distant cities. The two families had heard the reputation of the other family’s child and before long they sent messengers to arrange the marriage. Neither the bride nor the groom was interested in marriage. When they were both forced to marry then they did not rebel. However, because both of them were more interested in the Dhamma, after they were married they always slept in separate rooms. Later when both of their parents passed away, they persuaded each other to ordain. The husband became a monk. The wife became a nun. They left their house and gave away all their possessions. When they came to a fork in the road, they agreed that if they went together they might cause gossip so they decided to go their separate ways. Before long both of them met with those who could teach them the Dhamma and both could become arahants with ease.
Not Leaving one’s Work Undone
E.1 Metaphor: Those who are patient . . .
Those who work without interest whether it is hot or cold, persevering like the toughest of grass, dedicating their manly strength to their business, will not fall away from happiness.
E.2 Metaphor: Just as dung accumulates on a pig’s tail
The nature of dung on the tail of a pig is to accumulate with the passing of the days making it increasingly difficult for the pig to find happiness in its daily life. The work a person leaves unfinished is of the nature to impede their prosperity. A person’s value is proportional to the work they complete. The work they leave undone detracts from
E.3 Ex. Culakasetthi Jataka (J.4)
There was once a millionaire and his servant who were traveling in a cart in the middle of India. The millionaire saw a dead mouse at the side of the road and pointed it out to his servant saying ‘if someone had proper principles of working as a salesman even with such a dead mouse as this he could set himself up in life.’ The servant immediately got down from the cart and allowed the millionaire to go home alone. He picked up the mouse and because he knew a lot of people in the area, he selected a house where he knew someone with compassion who kept cats was living and took the mouse there. He knew that compassionate people won’t kill mice but at the same time the cat has to have something to eat every day. He sold the mouse to the householder for a few cents.
He used the few cents to buy some sugar cane juice from the people crushing the cane. He asked for another bucket of plain water. He took the water and the sugar cane juice to the gate of the town. He waited until the flower gatherers from the palace came back from where they had been picking flowers outside the city wall. Of course, they were tired and thirsty as they came to the gates. He gave them a glass of plain water to drink first. After they had slaked their thirst, he gave them a second glass of sugar cane juice. The palace attendants didn’t know how to pay the man so they gave him each a handful of jasmine flowers. The man took the flowers and sold them for a small profit. He had a little more money than before. He bought more sugarcane juice and collected a little more rainwater sold all of it to the flower gatherers on the second day, and got enough money for the second of sugarcane juice — enough for the people collecting firewood.
The people with the firewood drank the sugar cane each left him with a bundle of firewood. He sold the firewood and got even more sugarcane kept his eyes and ears open and noticed that there had been a storm in the night. In the royal forest there were many broken branches and tree-trunks und. He took his sugar-cane juice nearest. He offered to the forest keeper to be the one to clear up all the broken branches and the forester agreed because he would be able to have an easy day. He, therefore, offered, therefore, like to the children running and playing nearby, and the children cut and gathered all the broken branches together into a huge pile. He sold the branches as firewood to a potter and bought a big barrel. Where he had sold sugar-cane juice by, now he sold it by the barrel. He bartered sugar-cane juice for flowers, firewood, and even grass fodder.
One day a big caravan of traders arrived at the gate with many hungry horses etc. He told the stable boys in the palace not to sell their fodder to anyone and he sold his own fodder at a high price to the traders. It was not enough and they even took the fodder from the palace to sell to them at the same high price so that everyone got a profit. He carried on working like this until before long he was able to put down a deposit on a trading ship. His ship kept trading until he had amassed a fortune of 100,000. In the end, he returned to the old millionaire who had been his master and presented him with the 100,000 saying that all of this wealth had come from the policy of seeing the benefits in a dead mouse. The millionaire was so impressed that he gave the man a fortune of a million and also his daughter’s hand in marriage.
G.1 Proverb: Mahapadayi Sutta (A.iii.51)
Those who give the things they like are wont to receive things that they like; those who give the supreme, are wont to receive supreme things; those who give good things are wont to receive good things; those who give the ultimate are wont to attain the ultimate; persons who give the supreme, the good, the ultimate, will have long life and honor wherever they are born.
G.2 Metaphor: A burning house
If our house catches fire, the possessions we can manage to salvage before it burns down will be all we are left with. In the same way, the possessions that are really our own, are those we can convert to merit by the power of our generosity in the space of our lifetime, before the fires of old age, sickness, and death burn up this impermanent body of ours.
Dutiya Jana Sutta A.i.156
G.3 Metaphor: Cow and Pig (trad.)
The pig was jealous of the cow because the cow seemed to be very popular with everybody.
Someone advised the pig, “Don’t be jealous — popularity is in proportion to one’s generosity. The cow gives her milk daily to make butter and yogurt and cheese”.
The pig was indignant saying, “Generous — I’m generous! Look at all the things mankind has to thank me for — my bristles make paintbrushes and my flesh makes all the pork dishes of the world.”
”Don’t confuse the issue,” said the advisor, “— all the things the cow gives, she gives while she is still living!”
Ever wondered why people who are only generous in their will are never very popular?
G.4 Ex. Culasataka Brahmin (DhA.iii.002ff.)
There was once a couple who were so poor that they only had a loincloth each and between them, they only had a single shawl. If the husband went out of the house with the shawl then the wife had to hide in the house. If the wife went out of the house, the husband had to stay home. They couldn’t go anywhere together because they only had a single shawl between them. One day the husband went alone to hear the teaching of the Buddha. He was filled with faith and thought to offer the shawl to the Buddha. He took off the shawl, then thought of his wife at home and changed his mind. He listened to the sermon further until midnight and again he was filled with faith to offer the shawl — but when he thought of his wife, he changed his mind again.
He listened to the sermon further almost until dawn and this time when he was filled with faith, he offered the shawl to the Buddha without any further hesitation, while exclaiming the words, “Cittame Cittame” meaning “I have conquered (it), I have conquered (it).” King Pasenadi was sitting nearby. If anyone shouts anything like this near a king, they will normally have their head chopped off — but the king was interested to know what he had conquered. The poor man said that he had conquered his stinginess. The king thought, “Such a person is rare” and therefore set the man up in life with a standard of living fit for a millionaire. The man offered everything he had been given to the Buddha except for a shawl for himself and one for his wife. The king, therefore, gave the man even more possessions.
In the morning the Buddha revealed to the rest of the monastic community that if the man had managed to conquer his stinginess since the beginning of the sermon, he would have been made four times as rich. If he had conquered his stinginess at midnight he would have been twice as rich. His hesitation had blunted the power of his meritorious intention. The Buddha concluded that if anyone ever has the faith to do a good deed, then they should quickly do that good deed before the intention is overtaken by stinginess.
E.1 Ex. Kukku JAtaka (J.396)
On the occasion of giving a teaching to the king, the Buddha related the story of his previous birth as the counselor to King Brahmadatta who at that time was an unjust ruler. After waiting a long time for a tactful opportunity to correct the king’s ways, one day the two visited a building under construction in the royal park. The roofing is not complete and the rafters had just been laid in place. The king asked his counselor how the rafters could stay in place, and having found his opportunity, the counselor said that just as the peak of a roof will fall unless tightly held by the rafters, a king will soon fall from power unless supported by subjects who have been won over by his righteousness. As a lemon must be eaten without its peel, so must taxes be gathered without violence. Like the lotus, unstained by the water in which it grows, is the virtuous man untainted by the world — therefore his majesty should give up his extortion of unfair taxes and various other injustices driven by bias and defilements of action.
Looking after One’s Extended Family
D.1 Metaphor: Lone pine cannot survive in strong wind
The Lord Buddha taught that all of the trees that stand together in the forest will help each other mutually giving shelter from the gales and storms, sun, and rain. By offering each other shelter, each tree is protected from being uprooted. On the other hand, the largest tree (the king of the forest) in the forest must endure the strong winds alone and in the end, it cannot survive every storm. In the same way, if anyone tries to go it alone in the swift currents of society, without the help of any friends and relatives, will eventually come to a sticky end. On the other hand, even if someone in society is not particularly outstanding in any respect, if they have sufficient friends and family who can help them in times of need, they will be able to overcome all difficulties that cross their path. If they run for election, without much canvassing they can soon be elected without much trouble.
D.5 Ex. Buddha tends to the sick monk himself (DhA.i.319ff.)
Once the Buddha happened to see the sorrowful state of a certain monk called ‘Tissa’. The monk had been meditating diligently until becoming afflicted with a disease of stinking open sores covering his whole body. Because of the smell, he had been abandoned by his fellow monks. The Buddha knew that Tissa would soon
attain Arahanthood, so he proceeded to the fire-shed, close to the place where the monk was staying. There, he personally boiled some water, went to the place where the monk was lying down and took hold of the edge of the couch. It was only then that the other monks also gathered around him, and as instructed by the Buddha,
they carried him out where he was washed and bathed. While he was being bathed his robes were washed and dried. After the bath, the monk became fresh in body and mind and soon developed a one-pointedness of concentration. Standing at the head of the couch, the Buddha told him that this body when devoid of life would be as useless as a log and would be laid on the earth. At the conclusion of the sermon, Tissa attained Arahanthood. Soon after, he passed away into ParinibbÅna. The Buddha then directed some bhikkhus to cremate his body and enshrine his relics in a stËpa. Subsequently, the Buddha taught, ‘Bhikkhus! You do not have your mother or father here who can tend to you. If you do not tend to one another, who will be there to tend to you? Tend a sick fellow monk as if you were tending me.’
E.1 Ex. The Father, the Son, and the Donkey
Once there were a father and a son who went to the market in a distant town and bought a donkey. They led the donkey back toward their home on a rope. On the way back from the market, they passed through the first village and all the villagers exclaimed, “What a stupid father and son, they have spent good money on a donkey and now they lead it along the road instead of riding it”. The father and son thought, “What they say is true,” and so the father sat the son on the donkey and they went on their way. They passed through the second village and all the villagers exclaimed, “What an ungrateful son to ride the donkey and leave his poor father to walk — if the son were to walk and let his father ride, it would show that the son at least repays his debt of gratitude to his father”. The father and son thought, “What they say is true,” and so the father sat on the donkey and the son walked and they went on their way. They passed through the third village and all the villagers exclaimed, “What a cruel father! He has hardly any more years of life in him, and he lets his poor son walk along the road in his place”. The father and son consulted one another, “What they say is true,” and so both the son and the father sat on the donkey and they went on their way. They passed through the fourth village and all the villagers exclaimed, “What a cruel father and son! Both of them together weigh more than the donkey itself and they are both riding the donkey — they’re not interested even if they break the donkey’s back”. The father and son consulted one another, “What they say is true,” — if they ride the donkey singly, together or lead the donkey, they get criticized — what can they do? They found a rope and tied the donkey so that it hung on the pole by its feet. The father took one end of the pole and the son the other and they went on their way. They passed through the fifth village and all the villagers exclaimed, “This father and son must be mad. What could be the reason they have bought a donkey to carry around like that. Wouldn’t it be better just to walk empty-handed?” This story only goes to show that if you want to find something to criticize, you can always find something. However, unfortunately, those who spend their whole time criticizing others are very numerous in the world. The moral of the story is that you cannot rely on others’ criticism to tell you the truth of a situation — you must have principles that are tried and tested to use as a rule of thumb.
Abstaining from Unwholesomeness
E.1 Metaphor: Just as we must freshen ourselves up . . .
Just as we have to freshen ourselves up thoroughly before dressing up smart before we avail ourselves of the higher virtues we have to make sure we are completely free of remaining unwholesomeness.
E.4 Ex. KukkuÊamitta the Hunter (DhA.iii.24ff.)
In the time of the Buddha, there was a woman who had been going to the temple with her mother since the age of seven. At that time she had already become a stream-enterer. A stream-enterer keeps the Precepts automatically the whole of the time and is unable to break their Precepts. Sense-grasping is still in the mind of a stream-enterer, however. Thus even though she was a stream-enterer, she still had subtle desires. As the daughter of a millionaire, she had her own castle, and each day she would look down from the castle at the people coming and going in the marketplace (because she had nothing better to do). One day she saw a hunter coming to sell the animals he had killed in the marketplace. She fell in love with him at first sight, and in the end eloped with him. Even though she could no longer bring herself to kill, steal, commit adultery, lie or drink alcohol, she could not help herself from falling in love. Before long she had seven sons. When they married, she had another seven daughters-in-law. The Buddha saw that the time had come when the family could profit from his teaching so he passed by the home of the hunter. The Buddha spread loving-kindness so that no animals in the area got caught in any of the hunter’s traps. The Buddha sat in the forest and meditated. When the hunter couldn’t catch anything he thought that someone must be stealing the animals out of the traps, so he looked for the culprit. He saw the footprints of the Buddha and followed them to where the Buddha was. The hunter aimed an arrow at the Buddha but was unable to shoot and stuck there at the spot. All the seven sons came out looking for the father, and tried to shoot the Buddha and ended up the same as the father, frozen to the spot. Later in the day, the woman came out looking for the rest of the family along with her daughters-in-law. When the woman saw the Buddha and what her husband was trying to do she called, “That’s my own father. Don’t harm him!” When the sons and father heard their mother’s voice they thought that the Buddha was really her father and so laid down their bows. The Buddha was able to teach them until all of them could attain stream entry in that family. From that time onwards no one in the family could kill anymore. This is an example of abstinence from unwholesomeness by transcendental avoidance.
Restraint from Drinking Intoxicants
F.1 Metaphor: Just as one match can burn a town down
Just as a single match can burn down an entire town— even a little alcohol can cause a lapse of mindfulness that may ruin your whole life.
F.2 Metaphor: The elephant’s trunk
In one metaphor told by Phramonkolthepmuni (1885-1959) — the Great Abbot of Wat Paknam: “abstaining from alcohol is the most important single Precepts because it ensures the reliability of all the other four. For this reason, you must strictly abstain from all alcohol. If you cannot abstain from alcohol then no single one of your Five Precepts is safe. This precept prohibits the consumption of any substance which causes people to lose their sense of responsibility. The enlightened ones never think to touch even a drop of such substances and you should follow their example too if you really want to keep the Precepts. If the substance is one that causes heedlessness, you have the intention of consuming it, you make the effort to consume it and it goes inside your body (e.g. down your throat) then the Fifth Precept will be broken.
The Buddha compared the first four Precepts to the feet of an elephant and the Fifth Precept to its trunk. The whole of an elephant’s quality of life depends on the intactness of its trunk. With its trunk, it can earn its living and feed itself. Without a trunk, it cannot stoop down and eat grass like a buffalo — because it’s so tall. It would have to endure the difficulty of lying down in order to eat. That’s why the trunk is important. In the same way, abstaining from alcohol is an important part of the Five Precepts. If you consume substances that make you heedless then before you realize it, you will break the other four Precepts. Thus the Fifth Precept is the important one. This is because of greed, hatred, and ignorance in the mind, ignorance is the most damaging. This is why the Fifth Precept is so important.
All the benefits of the good things in the whole of the Buddhist Canon hinge upon our responsibility towards practicing them. If you are reckless then you will estrange yourself from all these good things and furthermore do evil things instead. Alcohol and drugs dull the mind causing one to slip into recklessness. Thus only when you are able to abstain strictly from all such substances will you set yourself upon
a foundation of non-recklessness.”
F.3 Ex. Bhagraghata Jataka J.ii.431ff.
Once the banker Anathapindika had a nephew who had squandered 40 million of his drinking habits, leaving him penniless. The nephew, therefore, came to Anathapindika’s home asking for some financial help. The nephew said he would use the money to invest in the business — to set himself up in life. Anathapindika was pleasantly surprised to hear his drunken nephew wanted to earn his living. He gave him 1,000 and taught him a few tricks of the trade. The nephew thanked Anathapindika and wasted no time in going out with his friends at spending all the money on booze.
Later he came back to Anathapindika saying he had lost all his money in business due to lack of experience and asked for money again. Anathapindika pretended he didn’t know what was going on and this time gave the nephew only 500, again telling him to invest it wisely. The shameless nephew spent all 500 on alcohol again.
For a third time, the nephew returned to ask for more. Anathapindika gave him two pieces of coarse cloth instead of money, knowing he would be more likely to make an effort to sell it. The nephew did sell the cloth but again he spent all he had earned on alcohol.
He came back to Anathapindika for a fourth time with an outstretched palm. This time Anathapindika had his nephew thrown out into the street. The nephew was destitute and lodged at this person’s house, eventually, the nephew died in poverty.
Anathapindika felt somehow blameworthy for his nephew’s death. Was there something more he could have done? He sought an audience from the Buddha telling him the whole story. The Buddha said that it was not only this life that the nephew had been beyond help.
In a previous lifetime when the nephew had been given a wishing cup, it still couldn’t help him. It still couldn’t satiate his appetite — so it is no surprise that Anathapindika’s limited means weren’t enough to help him.
The Buddha concluded briefly, but Anathapindika invited him to give more detail. The Buddha thus revealed the story of the past as follows:
In the past, when King Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born as a millionaire, inheriting a fortune of 40 million from his father. He had only one child — a son. The Bodhisattva liked to perform acts of charity regularly, giving alms and pursuing other forms of virtues until the end of his life. When he passed away the Bodhisattva was reborn as Indra, the king of heaven. The only son inherited a fortune of 40 million, but instead of investing it in business, he had a huge pavilion built — not as a place of worship but as a drinking place.
There he whiled away the time drinking with friends, hiring dancers and singers, and gave them extravagant prizes for their performances. He did the same things every day — this and nothing else — living a life of drink and recklessness. Eventually, his wealth was exhausted. He had to sell-up everything he owned. He was left destitute, wearing only rags and wandering the streets.
Indra surveyed the world and saw his former son destitute — his inheritance squandered on alcohol. Out of mercy, Indra appeared to the son saying
“Now you are in great hardship. I feel sorry for you, so I’m giving you this magic pot — take good care of it. Never drop it. If it breaks, it will lose its magic powers. It will produce whatever you wish for.”
The son accepted the cup and Indra gave him a sermon before returning to heaven, re-iterating that he should never let the cup break. The son promised to take good care of it. “Good,” said Indra, “Because it’s your last chance to liberate yourself from hardship and poverty!”
As soon as Indra was gone, he made a wish for all types of wealth and spent all the wealth on alcohol. He drank alone or in company singing and dancing merrily, holding the wishing cup in one hand and a bottle of liquor in the other. He felt more and more incapable. He came to the point where his merit had run out — because the alcohol had uprooted the last of his merit. He started to play with the wishing cup for fun, throwing it in the air and catching it. Eventually, it fell to the ground and broke — irreparably. And so he returned to his former hardship, with a begging bowl, a burden on society to the end of his days.”
“Anathapindika! As it was in the past, so it is now — this man has not changed his ways.” Thus for an alcoholic, even the gift of a wishing cup is still unable to bring happiness or prosperity. From their foolishness drinkers even destroy the luck they already have. Even though he had had the chance to help himself with a magic pot even more powerful than any money, as a drunk he could not do anything to help himself. He was beyond help. Therefore before helping someone, look to see
whether they are going to use the money you give them to buy alcohol. Sometimes you pay laborers more wages — instead of the work they do improve, it gets worse because they have more money left at the end of the week to spend on drink. Make sure that before you help someone, they stop all forms of the Six Roads to ruin, even if they are your own family or parents.
F.4 Ex. Putting your land in a whisky bottle
There was an old uncle who loved to drink liquor. His wife and children warned him again and again but he would not listen. He sold all his land to buy liquor. One day the son came home tired from the fields and saw his father drinking and thought,
“How can I teach my father to see through his stupidity?”
The boy took a goad and beat a buffalo trying to force the buffalo into an earthenware pot.
The father said, “Stop that at once! How can you expect to force a buffalo into a tiny jar like that?”
The boy said, “Father it’s no more illogical than what you do every day — you have managed to put all of the lands on this farm in your whisky bottle!”
Then the father managed to see what his son was teaching him — if his son was doing something crazy, then he was the crazier of the two of them.
Non-Recklessness in the Dhamma
Appamado amatam padam
Non-recklessness is the pathway to immortality.
Pamado maccuno padam
Recklessness is the pathway to death.
When the wise remove recklessness by non-recklessness; it is as entering the castle of wisdom; free of sorrow, they are able to see people; still caught up in their stupidity. Those still caught up in sorrow, like those standing upon a mountain peak.
E.3 Ex. Cakkhupala Thera DhA.i.15ff.40/32
There was a monk called Cakkhupala in the time of the Buddha. He was ordained in his old age. Once he had learned the principles of meditation, he went into the forest to practice with another thirty monks. Before the beginning of the rainy season, the monks had a meeting to decide how to practice in keeping with having become Buddhist monks. Some monks said they wanted to meditate for an hour a day.
Others said they would learn to chant or read books. Cakkhupala disagreed and said that they were all still reckless. He said that such practice was no more challenging than household life. He said that for himself, he would restrict himself to the three positions of sitting, standing, and walking to meditate throughout the rainy season. He would not lie down even for the fear of death. All the other monks agreed with him so they all practiced like this for two months. At that time, Cakkhupala’s eye got an infection. He developed ophthalmia and needed medicine. He went to see a doctor who gave him eye drops. To administer the drops, you needed to lie down. Thus Cakkhupala didn’t use the medicine because he didn’t want to break his vow of not lying down. He thought at his advancing years, he didn’t know when death would come. He was more afraid that his mind would be blind to the Dhamma than that his eyes would be blind to the light. The doctor abandoned him. Cakkhupala thought to himself that he no longer had any refuge so he sat for meditation with fervor, to try to find a real refuge for himself — the Dhammakaya inside. On the last day of the rainy season, he attained Dhammakaya and used the Dhammakaya to consider the Noble Truths and was able to become an arahant, but by that time he was already blind. All of the thirty monks were able to become arahants.
Some asked the Buddha why after doing so many good deeds Cakkhupala could go blind. Cakkhupala had been an optician in a previous life and had a female patient who was blind. The girl had made a contract that if she got her sight back she would pay him a certain amount. When she really recovered her sight, she didn’t want to pay what she had agreed, so she pretended not to have recovered. The doctor wondered how she knew it was him if she could not see. When he found out she was just evading payment, in anger he made her a new eye medicine with acid, saying that when she used this medicine, she would be cured for life. This time the girl really did go blind. The karma of that action was to plague him in every future lifetime.
To advocate meditation even to the point of damaging one’s health might sound extreme. If we were still considering the pursuit of virtue in Blessings One to Eighteen, perhaps we would consider compromising spiritual practice with our worldly needs, however, now that we are in the second half of the Manual of Peace concerning higher virtue, given that we have the know-how and the opportunity, having come thus far, we should strive without compromise in every way that we know will bring progress to our practice.
D.1 Metaphor: Cavemen frozen for their ignorance
Arthur C. Clarke once observed that cave dwellers froze to death on beds of coal. Coal was right under them, but they didn’t notice it or have the knowledge to mine it or use it. Not knowing the beneficial qualities of a resource can cost you your life. In the same way, without the respect to wake you up to the virtues latent in the people standing right next to you might cost you the path of spiritual progress
D.2 Ex. Tittira Jataka (J.37)
There were three animals a pigeon, a monkey, and an elephant which lived in a banyan tree. They showed no respect or consideration for each other. The elephant thought it was the best because it was the biggest. It would scratch itself against the tree so roughly that all the other animals would fall out of the tree. It would trumpet so loudly that it would wake up all the others. The monkey was no less inconsiderate. I thought it was the best because it was fast and could climb the tree more quickly than the others. It would throw a red ant’s nest down on the elephant if it was dissatisfied. If it was boring it would destroy the pigeon’s nest just for fun. The pigeon said nothing but did a dropping on the monkey’s head. Also, the pigeon would coo loudly whenever it felt like it. In the end, none of the three animals could get a proper night’s sleep. The three animals met together to decide what to do because, if they carried on being inconsiderate like this indefinitely, they would surely all die. They decided to respect each other according to age. They didn’t have a way of counting the years so they all compared themselves to the history of the tree. The elephant said that his first memory of the tree was when the tree was only as high as his navel (a meter high). The monkey’s first memory of the tree was when it could sit on the ground and nibble the top of the tree (six inches high). The bird said that he could remember the tree since it had still not sprouted. Therefore the bird was the oldest followed by the monkey followed by the elephant. Now each animal could put its own goodness to work. The bird would get up in the morning and fly up high into the sky to see which part of the forest where the fruit was ripe. Now the elephant and monkey didn’t have to guess where the fruit was anymore. The monkey and the bird would sit on the back of the elephant and go to where the fruit was ripe. Now instead of the elephant having to wait for the fruit to drop, the monkey would climb the tree and collect the fruit for the other two. They would pick so much fruit and put it on the back of the elephant that they could store fruit at the bottom of the banyan tree so that the next day they wouldn’t have to go looking for food anymore. Because of the benefit of respect according to seniority in bringing forth goodness in every person, even in the monastic community, monks respect one another according to seniority and the older monks have the duty to teach the younger.
D.1 Metaphor: Deadwood v. Greenwood
Deadwood is tough and brittle. It will stand unyielding in the wind. If the wind gets stronger, it will remain unmoving. However, if there is a gale, it will break in two. Pushed to its limits, the damage to deadwood is irreparable. No matter how much more water or fertilizer you give it, it will not come back to life. This can be compared to an arrogant person who will never show any deference to anyone else and thereby forgoes the opportunity to absorb virtue from others.
By contrast, greenwood is soft and flexible. In a breeze, it will bend and twist with the wind. If the wind gets strong, then it will bend double — or even parallel with the ground. When the wind has passed, then it will stand up as straight as it was before. If you give it a little water after the dry season, it will soon break into leaves. This can be compared to a humble person who will adapt themselves favorably to any situation or person from which they can absorb virtue.
D.2 Metaphor: Clay earth v. sandy earth
Sandy soil becomes fragmented into individual clods in the drought of the dry season — but even when the rains come, although the ground is wetted, the soil will still remain rigidly cracked into its individual clods. In a similar way when differences arise in a group of arrogant people, even though they have the opportunity to reconcile them, vengeful thoughts keep prevent them from coming back together again.
Clay earth also becomes cracked in the dry season — however, all it takes is a shower of rain, and it will soon be back to normal with no remaining cracks. In a similar way, when differences arise in a group of humble people, as soon as they have the opportunity to reconcile themselves, they will soon be back in harmony again.
D.3 Metaphor: the low-lying ocean
The ocean is the lowest lying of all the waterways in the world — as such all the waters of all the rivers of the world must flow towards it. In the same way, the deference shown by a humble person will lead all the virtues exemplified in other people in the world to flow towards him.
D.4 Metaphor: Half-full bottle
A bottle that is full of water makes no noise when shaken like a person full of virtue who doesn’t need to boast about it. But a bottle that is half-full is noisy when shaken like a person lacking in virtue who feels compelled to boast about what little they have.
D.6 Ex. Vidudabha & Mahanama, DhA.i.346
Although the Sakya clan were the ancestors of the Lord Buddha, they had one weakness— their arrogance about the long history of their clan led them to look down on everyone else. Normally they would not even deign to marry outside their own dynasty. Thus when King Pasenadi of Kosala, hoping to secure good relations with the Sakyans, asked for the hand of a Sakyan maiden in marriage they had a difficult decision to make. In the end, they succumbed to their normal arrogant ways and instead of sending a real princess, sent an illegitimate, half-caste daughter born out of a relationship between Sakyan King Mahanama and a slave girl. The child was therefore untouchable. King Pasenadi didn’t know, so he had a huge State marriage organized. Later a prince was born called Prince Vidudabha. He was very clever (because of hybrid vigor). He wanted to know about his maternal relatives. When he grew up and went to visit his maternal city of Kapilavastu, he was still looked down upon by all the Sakyans and he was given reluctant hospitality.
On the way home after such an inhospitable visit, one of Vidudabha’s generals found he had forgotten something important at Kapilavastu. He returned and found the Sakyans scouring the palace with milk. When he asked the reason why, they told
him that Vidudabha was untouchable — and they must disinfect every place he had trodden or sat. When Pasenadi heard the news he removed both the queen and the prince from their positions and was going to invade Magadha. The Buddha prohibited him. The Buddha explained that whether Pasenadi attacked them or not, the Sakyans would receive the fruits of their own karma. The Buddha also advised Pasenadi to reinstate the queen, saying that paternal blood was more important than maternal. Pasenadi followed the Buddha’s advice but Vidudabha found it less easy to forgive the Sakyans. He made the vow that whenever he became king, he would seek his revenge and scour the earth of Kapilavastu with the blood of the Sakyans. Before long Vidudabha ascended to the throne and marched against the Sakyans.
The Buddha knew what would happen and appeared to Vidudabha at a sand heap on the road between Savatthi and Kapilavastu. The Buddha appealed to Vidudabha to stop and the first time, he turned around and returned to Savatthi. However, he couldn’t forget his anger. He set out with his troops a second time. Again, the Buddha appealed to him to be forgiving. A second time he turned his troops homeward. This happened in all three times — but Vidudabha was not cured of his anger. The fourth time he marched on Kapilavastu, the Buddha didn’t stand in his way. He saw that it was karma that was unavoidable to the Sakyans because of their past arrogance. Even though many of the Sakyans had been ordained, many had attained degrees of enlightenment, and all of them kept the Five Precepts, they still maintained their arrogance. The Sakyans all came out in defense of their kingdom, but they were more scared of breaking their Precepts than they were of death. They shot arrows harmlessly into the turbans of the Kosalans, into flags, and into the wagon wheels. They were too afraid to hit any living target. Vidudabha conquered the Sakyans easily and had the throat of every Sakyan slit — washing the floor with their blood. He spared only the life of King Mahanama. He said that he would have one last meal with his grandfather. Mahanama was still so arrogant, that he would not even eat at the same table as his untouchable grandson. He threw himself into the water and drowned himself. This is an example of the damage done when people are arrogant.
F.1 Metaphor: A drop can fill a glass but a river cannot fill the sea . . .
Even the smallest drop of water can make the difference between whether a bottle is full is not. On the other hand, the more water you may have you cannot cause the ocean to overflow. In the same way, even a small amount of money can make a difference to a person who knows contentment. On the other hand, no matter how much wealth you may have, for those who don’t know contentment, it will only add to that person’s discontent.
F.2 Ex. Happy beggar, discontent businessman
There was a minister of commerce who told the story of two events he came across on the same day which had impressed him from that day to this. He left his home one day and passed a beggar in the street. In his family, there was a tradition that they would never pass a request for help unanswered — how much they helped someone in need depended — but they would never refuse someone’s help. To give a beggar a cent would normally be a lot, but that day in his pocket there was no loose change. He had to open up his wallet where the smallest note was a five-dollar bill. He gave the five-dollar bill to the beggar. The beggar was so happy that he bowed down on the pavement at the feet of the minister. The beggar said that he had been a beggar since he was a child and today was the first time in his life he had met someone so generous as to give him five dollars. The beggar’s eyes shone with appreciation. The beggar’s delight gave the minister a certain cheerfulness to start his day.
When the minister reached the ministry, he met a bank manager with a pained expression of woe on his face. The minister asked whether the banker was ill. The banker said, “I am so upset I haven’t slept for a week. I told my son to order a certain product that was bound to be missing from the market, right from early in the year. The son didn’t believe me at first so he made his order a little late. Only the first order had been ahead of the competitor. For the second and third lots, there had been sales competition from other companies. The son should have had a profit of 100 million this year, but because he didn’t believe me, he could only manage a profit of 60 million. We have lost 40 million we could have had.”
The minister expressed his condolences and entered his office and that day could hardly get any work done, because of his musing about the ways of the world — a beggar who is happy all day with a five-dollar bill and a banker who cannot sleep
because he only got a profit of sixty million. He sat and wondered whether even if he managed to achieve miracles as the minister of commerce whether anyone would be happier as the result.
F.7 Ex. A stray dog grown fat
If you notice the habits of a mangy, starved dog — if you give it a bowlful of offal it will be glad of even this and will finish the whole plate. However, if you feed it offal for seven days, if after a week there is no meat in its bowl it will start to refuse food. If you continue to give it better food, in no time it will be climbing on the table competing with the master for the food on his plate. If you meet this sort of stray dog, you have no alternative but to chase it away, because it is a dog of the sort that
never knows enough.
Not only animals are like this — even some people, although they may not be at all poor, never know enough of a good thing. The richer they get, the richer they want to be. Even when they are quite comfortable in their own lifestyle, they will still go out of their way to take advantage of others to widen their own profit margin. There have been such people in every period of history and they have brought only suffering and degradation to society in all cases. The illness such people suffer from is that they ‘never know enough’ of something or to be more specific, they lack contentment.
E.1 Metaphor: Sunlight is lost on a blind man
In the same way that the light of the sun is the blind man no matter how brightly it shines, the favors and compassions of a benefactor are lost on an ungrateful person no matter how much help they may give.
E.2 Ex. One ladleful of rice DhA.ii.104ff.
Besides being the right-hand disciple of the Lord Buddha he was wise in teaching second to the Buddha himself. Sariputta was also unsurpassed in the virtue of gratitude. He would not let even the smallest favor pass by unnoticed. There was
one day in the town of Rajagaha, the Lord Buddha was staying at Veluvana Temple and Sariputta was there also. An aged brahmin called Radha had been shunned by his wife, family, and in-laws because he was not very wealthy. They abandoned Radha instead of looking after him in his old age. He didn’t want to bother anyone unduly so he thought of becoming a Buddhist monk for the final days of his life. None of the monks in the temple were interested to take responsibility for his ordination because they saw that he was already old and would only be a burden on the temple. No one would give him ordination. The Buddha asked if there was not a single monk in the temple who had received benefits from this Brahmin in the past. Sariputta spoke up and said that once a long time ago Radha had given him a ladleful of rice when he was on alms round. The Buddha, therefore, asked Sariputta to help out Radha on this occasion. Sariputta ordained Radha and allowed him to stay in the same lodging teaching him meditation and the teachings of the Buddha. Radha practiced hard and before long was able to become an arahant. Sariputta certainly showed his gratitude and the Buddha revealed that it was not only in that life that he had been grateful. Even in previous lifetimes, he had been grateful and this had built up the habits that allowed him to absorb the Dhamma to the point of mastery.
E.4 Ex. Cullapaduma Jataka (J.192)
When the Lord Buddha was still pursuing Perfections as the Bodhisattva, he was born as a prince called Paduma. His father the king was suspicious of his young and handsome son because he was afraid that his son might compete with him for his
own wives and consorts. He banished his son from the kingdom and told him to come back only after the death of the king. Prince Paduma lived in the forest with his wife.
One day the prince came across a prisoner who had had his arms, legs, nose, and ears cut off in punishment but who was nevertheless still alive and who had been cast away on a raft. The prince attended to the health of the prisoner even though
the princess shunned him at first. Later, when the prisoner had recovered his health, somehow a love grew up between himself and the princess and the two of them had an affair. The princess was afraid she would be discovered so she lured the prince to the edge of a cliff and pushed him over. The prince survived by clinging to a branch below and returned to his home kingdom, in time to become king. He was fed up with marriage and ruled the kingdom in justice doing only good deeds throughout his life. As for the princess, she put her lover in a basket and would carry him here and there begging for a living. They made up a story that they had been married only out of respect for the wishes of their parents. Everyone was sorry for them, thinking that the wife had gratitude towards both her parents and her husband so they gave their donations of food and money. One day, the princess crossed into the kingdom of King Paduma, and that day the king himself was there making donations to the poor with the others. Of course, he remembered the couple and was angry because he had still not come to an end to defilements. He ordered the execution of both the princess and the prisoner, but after a few moments, his temper cooled down and reduced their punishment to banishment.
Thus you may trust a person but never trust their defilements — even if they are invalid. Ingratitude has deep roots which can even be communicated from one lifetime to the next — therefore to get rid of ingratitude right from the present lifetime
is the safest bet.
Listening Regularly to Dhamma Teachings
D.1 Proverb: Those who see the danger in the cycle of existence (S.v.94-6)
“O! You who see the danger in the cycles of existence [saOsAra], in whatsoever era
the Noble Disciples hear the Dhamma, listen to the marrow of their bones, and listen to
the innermost part of their mind, and who muster all of their encouragement, bending
their ears to listen in earnest — in that era their Five Hindrances will be overcome and their Seven Factors of Enlightenment [bojjhanga] will be brought to completion
through the power of their meditation.”
D.2 Ex. Culapanthaka DhA.i.239ff.
There was one monk in the time of the Lord Buddha called Culapanthaka who had been ordained for ten years but was so inert that after all that time he could not even remember four lines of verse (one vagga). His elder brother (already an arahant) despaired. He thought, “My younger brother is so dumb he cannot even remember four lines of the verse so what chance would he have of learning the chanting or any of the longer suttas of the Buddha?” Culapanthaka was chased out of the temple and shunned because he wasn’t considered worthy of his alms-food. Culapanthaka left the temple in despair and met with the Buddha. Culapanthaka informed the Buddha that he was going to disrobe. The Buddha asked him, “When you ordained, did you ordain to offer your life to Buddhism or did you ordain for the benefit of your big brother?” Culapanthaka agreed he had been ordained to offer his life for Buddhism so he renewed his interest to continue with the ordination. The Buddha looked back into the previous lifetimes of Culapanthaka to see what the problem impeding his progress in the apprehension of Buddhism. In past lives, he had been very intelligent but he had become arrogant as the result of his intelligence and had regularly teased a fellow monk who was not so gifted so often that the other monk despaired and disrobed. That evil had made him as stupid as his victim in every subsequent lifetime. The Buddha realized that memorizing any scriptures would be fruitless so he found another way to teach the monk. He taught the monk the word ‘rajoharanam’ (meaning sullied) and gave the monk a piece of white cloth with which to wipe his own head. He gave the monk the practice of reciting the word while at the same time wiping his head with the cloth. The white cloth was blackened by sweat and dirt and eventually Culapanthaka, seeing that the impurity of his own body had sullied the white cloth to make it black, lost attraction for his own body, his mind was able to enter the center of his body and attain the DhammakÅya inside. He became an arahant where he stood. His elder brother could not believe he was enlightened until his younger brother performed a feat of mental power by replicating thousands of images of himself [manomayiddhi].
.5 Ex. Kali Kuraragharika (DhA.iv.103ff.)
Kali Kuraragharika was the mother of Sona- Kutikanna Thera. On one occasion, Sona passed through his hometown. On his return from the Jetavana monastery, his mother met him and organized a grand charity in his honor. Having heard that her son could expound the Dhamma very well, she requested him to give a discourse. Sona complied with her request and so she built a pavilion for the purpose. A large crowd, including his mother, turned up to listen to the Dhamma
expounded by Sona.
While she was at the pavilion, some thieves broke into her house. However, the leader of the thieves went to the pavilion to keep an eye on her. His intention was to kill her should she return home early after learning about the theft at her house. Her maid, left behind to guard the house, went to the pavilion to inform her about the theft, but the lady only said, ‘Let the thieves take all my money, I don’t care. But don’t come and disturb me while I am listening to the Dhamma!’ Having reprimanded her, she sent the maid home.
The leader of the thieves, who was sitting close by, overheard everything. Her words also made him think, ‘If we take away the property of this wise and noble lady, we will surely be punished. We might even be struck by lightning.’ The leader got alarmed, hurried back to her house, and ordered his thieves to return all the things they had taken. The gang of thieves then went to the pavilion to listen to the Dhamma.
Sona finished his exposition of the Dhamma at the crack of dawn. Then, the leader and all the thieves admitted their mistakes and requested her forgiveness. Being a kind and devout lady she pardoned them all. Realizing the evil of their ways, all the thieves joined the Holy Order. After receiving instructions from Sona, the new bhikkhus went into the forest to practice meditation. The Buddha knowing their mental attitudes sent forth his radiance and exhorted them on the way to gain Purity.
D.1 Metaphor: Grass is Patient
Despite its small size, the tenacity of grass has allowed it to spread to every corner of the world. In the same way, despite a person’s lack of wealth, knowledge, or ability, their patience will allow them to train themselves toward happiness and success in life.
D.2 Ex. Khantivadi Jataka (J.313)
At a time when the Lord Buddha was still pursuing Perfections as the Bodhisattva, he was born as a hermit. He was meditating in a royal park. That day the king was drunk and came through the forest with his retinue of court ladies. The king fell asleep in the forest, so all the courtiers became bored and instead of attending the king, they went to listen to the teachings of the hermit nearby. When the king woke and found himself alone he lost his temper. When he found the courtiers, instead of being angry with his courtiers for leaving him, he became jealous of the hermit for having become the center of the courtiers’ attention.
He shouted at the hermit saying, “What’s so good about you? — Speak up for yourself if you have any particular virtues to speak of!”
The hermit said, “I have the habit of not being driven to anger. I train myself in patience.”
The king said, “That’s all I wanted to hear. We’ll soon find out where your patience lies!”— and had his attendants whip the hermit a thousand times.
The hermit remained indifferent. He said, “Your majesty, patience is not to be found in my skin but in my mind. Even if you were to strip all my skin off you would not find it.”
The king said, “That’s all I wanted to hear. We need to waste no further time with whipping,” and proceeded to cut off the ears, nose, arms, and legs of the hermit.
The hermit remained indifferent. Of course, it would have been agony, but the hermit maintained the quality of his mind, and in spite of the pain he was not angry. Normally, if something hurts our body, it hurts us to our mind, but not in the case of
this hermit. Instead of the hermit being angry, it was the king who got angry because he couldn’t manage to upset the hermit. He stamped on the ground in anger and turned his back on the hermit to leave the park. As he turned, the earth opened up beneath his feet and swallowed him directly into Aveci Hell. The hermit remained alive but covered in his own blood. The courtiers attended to the hermit’s wounds and redressed him. They were afraid the hermit would be angry with them — they all said that they only did what they did because the king had ordered them to do so. The hermit replied, “Long live the king and anyone else who decides to cut off my arms, legs, ears, and nose. People of the likes of me have no anger left for anyone.”
D.5 Ex. Ciñca MÅÁavika
During the lifetime of the Buddha, he was falsely accused many times by those who didn’t agree with what he was doing. At that time the Buddha overcame his rival’s accusations through the use of patience. There once was a woman called Ciñca
MÅÁavika supported ascetic sects. She was also a very beautiful woman — the local beauty of SÅvatthÈ and also a competitor of VisÅkhÅ. VisÅkhÅ supported Buddhism throughout her life. At that time, they would always invite celebrities to do the opening ceremony for local events. Buddhists would always invite VisÅkhÅ to open their ceremonies.The naked ascetics would always invite Ciñca MÅÁavika to do their openings. One day, because the naked ascetics were losing many followers to the Buddha, they enlisted the help of Ciñca MÅÁavika to spread gossip about the Buddha. In the evening, when supporters of the Buddha were returning from listening to His teachings at the temple she would pass them in the opposite direction and make it look like she was about to sleep in the kuti of the Buddha. When they asked where she was going, she would say, “To bring pleasure to the Buddha.” In the morning Ciñca MÅÁavika would pass the supporters who came to offer food in the morning. When they asked where she had been, she would say, “Bringing pleasure to the Buddha. “She pretended to be on intimate terms with the Buddha. She faked that she had become pregnant, by wearing a concealed lump of wood over her stomach. Gossip started amongst some people who were still unsure of the virtue of the Buddha. Some believed that he had made Ciñca MÅÁavika pregnant. After nine months, many supporters had been put off going to the temple. Ciñca MÅÁavika stood up in the middle of a sermon and asked, “Are you only interested in teaching others rather than paying attention to our unborn child?”
If any woman in India made an accusation like this, she would be instantly believed. Many people walked out of the temple. The Buddha continued to use patience as his weapon. He said, “Only the two of us know the truth of the situation.” He didn’t deny or accept the accusation and he was not angry. Ciñca MÅÁavika didn’t know what to do. She strode about irritably and somehow the lump of wood slipped out from under her dress. Everyone knew the truth of the situation. “Have you given birth to a lump of wood?” some asked — but others were not so forgiving — they were going to kill her. She ran out of the gate of the temple, but as soon as she escaped the temple, the Earth split open between her feet and swallowed her straight into Aveci Hell. In India, there are still two holes in the ground close to the historic sight of Jetavana Temple. One where Ciñca MÅÁavika was swallowed up — the second belonging to Devadatta. Even to the present day, the soil of those two holes remains infertile to any crops planted on them.
Openness to Criticism
E.1 Proverb: Criticism like hidden treasure (Dh.76)
NidhEnaO’ va pavattAraO yaO passe
vajjadassinaO, niggayhavAdiO medhAviO,
tAdisaO paAIitaO bhaje, tAdisaO bhajamAnassa,
seyyo hoti na pApiyo
Should one find a man, who points out faults and who reproves, let him follow such a wise and sagacious person, as one would a guide to hidden treasure, it is always better and never worse, to cultivate such an association.
E.2 Metaphor: Frog at the bottom of a well
A stubborn person who doesn’t open themselves to criticism is like a frog living at the bottom of a well who has never had the chance to see the world from any other perspective. No matter how many people might come along and point out how much
better the world is outside the well, such words are lost on the frog who through his lack of experience always assumes he knows better.
E.3 Metaphor: Paralyzed by Stubbornness
The people of old compared a stubborn person to someone who has been paralyzed. Even though all around him there may be delicious food, beautiful clothes, and many other useful things, they are all useless to that person because the paralyzed person is unable to pick them up. In the same way, if a person is stubborn, even though they might have an arahant for a teacher, are unable to absorb any of the goodness of that person.
The Sight of a True Monk
D.4 Ex. Asajji Thera (DhA.i.78ff.)
Sariputta had originally been ascetic in the school of Sanjaya VelaEEhaputta. Together with his best friend MoggallAna, he had achieved eighteen diplomas from university and did not know what further to study, so they became ascetics. They wanted to meet an arahant. Later, Sariputta did meet the arahant called Assajji. He recognized from the manner of Assajji that he must have a special attainment.
Thus, Sariputta approached Assajji and bowed in respect before saying, “Sir, you have a radiant complexion, in whose school are you ordained?”
”I am ordained in the school of Gotama Buddha who is the son of the SAkya kings,” replied Assajji.
”And what does he teach, Sir?”
Even though he was an arahant, Assajji continued to treat Sariputta in a humble way saying, “I am still newly ordained, and I am still new to the teaching of the Buddha, I am not able to elaborate much on the Dhamma teachings, but can tell you that ‘Whatever thing arises because of a cause, the TathAgata will show the cause of that arising and the falling away of that thing.”
To the unpracticed listener, such teaching might not sound very impressive (to those who have only captured the sight of a true monk in the past without reflecting on their teachings.) However, Sariputta had over the course of many lifetimes been in the habit of ‘seeing’ a true monk on all three levels, so even such a short sermon could become a stream-enterer [sotApana] on the spot.
Regular Discussion of the Dhamma
E.1 Metaphor: Conferences for academics
Just as the sharing exchange of ideas at conferences helps to foster academic progress, regular discussion of the Dhamma will bring wisdom, the pathway
to the liberation of suffering.
E.2 Metaphor: Shadow-boxing
The people of old compared talking to ‘shadowboxing. They compared listening to others to punching a sandbag. However, discussions with others are the hardest of all (like boxing in the ring).
E.6 Ex. How not to conduct a Dhamma Discussion!
There was once a father and a son who was having a drink while they discussed the Dhamma. It was approaching the Buddhist Lent, so they were having their last drink before giving up drinking for the duration of the Lent. The father said, “I’ll be going to stay in the temple to keep the Eight Precepts so this alcohol will cause me to excrete the digestive bacteria in my stomach so that I don’t get too hungry.”
The son replied, “But isn’t it evil to excrete those poor digestive bacteria?”
“No, because those bacteria are just the cause of illnesses in our body — they don’t count.”
“But I insist — that is really killing living creatures!”
Before long, the discussion of the Dhamma has been reduced to an argument and the father chased the son down the road with a shotgun!
The Practice of Austerities
F.3 Ex. Buddha’s vow under the Bodhi Tree
The Buddha himself was an example to us of the ideal attitude to striving. On the morning before he sat for meditation for his enlightenment, he received milk-rice from SujAtA and a seat of perfumed grass under the Maha Bodhi Tree. The Buddha sat for meditation under the Bodhi Tree and made the vow, “For however long it takes for me to attain enlightenment as a fully enlightened Buddha, even if my body should shrivel and die leaving only skin, sinew and bone, I will not leave this meditation
E.1 Ex. Mahล Kassapa (AA.i.92ff., SA.ii.135ff.,
ThagA.ii.134ff., Ap.ii.578ff., Ap.i.33ff.)
There once was a young brahmin called Pipli. When he was young, he was very handsome but was not interested in married life. He was interested only in the study of the Dhamma. His father was a wealthy man and was worried that he would have no one to look after the family fortune when he was gone. His father was so anxious to see his son married that he went looking for suitors himself. Eventually, the father found another daughter of a millionaire who lived in a distant town. It happened that a daughter like Pipli was disinterested in the subject of marriage. The parents of this young girl were the same as Pipli’s parents — they were afraid that she would be an ‘old maid’. As soon as they heard that Pipli was to be a suitor, they were quick to give her a hand in marriage. Little did the parents of both sides know that both sides were already in communication with one another by letter. Both Pipli and the millionaire’s daughter had independently written letters to one another saying the same thing (i.e. please inform your parents to cancel the marriage, because, with all due respect, I am not interested in marriage and would prefer to remain single for the rest of my life). The messengers bearing the letters met one another on the road between the two towns. Both were scared that if they brought bad news to their respective parents, they would get no reward for their efforts so the two of them read each other’s letters and then rewrote the letters to say that both sides were ready and waiting to marry. So it came to pass that Pipli and the millionaire’s daughter were married, but because both had cultivated chastity for many lifetimes, they had no interest in sensual pleasures. Both had the latent ability to be arahants and even though they were forced to sleep in the same bed, both of them felt completely indifferent. They would put a garland of jasmine flowers between them on the bed and each of them would meditate in the sleeping position throughout the night. Even after ten years when the parents on both sides of the family had passed away, they were still living their married life in the same way. Once the last of their parents had passed away, they gave away all the family legacy. They both obtained the robes of an ascetic and left their home life. When they came to a fork in the road, the wife said, “Now we are ascetics, to go around as a couple is no longer appropriate.” Therefore the wife paid her last respects to her husband and both asked forgiveness for any mutual trespasses in the past, before the wife took the left-hand fork and the husband took the right-hand fork. It is said that through the power of the decision by such young people to go their own separate ways, at that time there was an earthquake in the vicinity. It is said that they were doing something very difficult to do. The Buddha detected the earthquake while he was meditating and looked for the reason. When he saw the reason was the ordination of Pipli, he went to meet him along the way and in a single sermon could elevate Pipli to the level of an arahant in seven days. As for the wife . . . she met with a bhikkhuAi arahant who taught her to the degree that she could attain arahantship within seven days in the same way. Ultimately, Pipli, under the ordained name of Mahakassapa Thera was the monk praised by the Buddha as unsurpassed in the practice of dhutaIga because he kept the dhutaIga practices throughout the whole of his life. After the passing away of the Buddha, because he was one of the most senior of the monks in the community, he was the monastic president of the First Council.
Seeing the Four Noble Truths
D.2 Ex. Kisลgotamศ Therศ (DhA.ii.270ff.)
Kisa Gotame lived in SAvatthE. She was known as Kisa Gotame because of her slim body. She married a rich young man and a son was born to them. The son died when he was just a toddler and Kisa Gotame was stricken with grief. Carrying her dead son, she went everywhere asking for medicine that would restore her son to life. People thought she had gone mad. But a wise man seeing her pathetic condition, decided to send her to the Buddha. He advised her, ‘Sister, the Buddha is the person you should approach. He has the medicine you want. Go to him.’ Thus she went to the Buddha and asked him to give her the medicine that would restore her dead son to life. The Buddha knowing her distracted mental condition told her to go looking for some mustard seeds from a home where there had been no death. Overjoyed at the prospect of having her son restored to life, Kisa Gotame ran from house to house, begging for some mustard seeds. Everyone was willing to help her but she could not find a single home where no death had ever occurred. The people were only too willing to part with their mustard seeds, but no one could claim never to have lost a loved one in death. As the day dragged on, she realized that hers was not the only family that had faced death and that there were more people dead than living. As soon as she realized this, her attitude towards her dead son changed; she was no longer attached to the dead body of her son and she realized how simply the Buddha had taught her a most important lesson: that everything that is born must eventually die.
She did a funeral for her dead son and told the Buddha that she could find no family where death had not occurred. Then the Buddha said,”Gotame, you should not think that you are the only one who has lost a son. As you have now realized, death
comes to all beings. Before their desires are satiated death takes them away.”
Perceiving the fleeting nature and impermanency of life, Kisa Gotame decided to renounce the worldly life.
She then requested the Enlightened One to admit her to the Order of Nuns. Accordingly, the Buddha sent her to the community of nuns and directed that she be admitted.
She was a very hardworking nun and was always mindful and conscientious of her religious duties, and strove diligently for her spiritual development to purify her mind of all mental defilements.
One night, she lit some oil lamps. Having lit them, she went and sat down a short distance away. As she observed the flames, her mind focused and she noticed that while some flared up some others flickered out. With her mind concentrating on the flames as the object of meditation, she meditated as follows,
‘Even as it is with these flames, so also is it 384 A Manual of Peace: 38 Steps towards Enlightened Living with living beings in this world: Some flare up, while others flicker out; only those who have attained Nirvana are no more seen.’
Through his supernormal power, the Buddha saw that Kisa Gotame was ripe for enlightenment. He sent forth his radiance and exhorted her to continue meditating on the impermanent nature of all conditioned things. The Buddha also commented,
“Though one should live a hundred years without perceiving the Deathless State (Nirvana), yet better indeed is a single day’s life of one who perceives the Deathless State.’
At the conclusion of the discourse, Kisa Gotame attained Arahanthood.
The Attainment of Nirvana
D.2 Ex. Kuสumbiyaputta-Tissa Thera (MA.i.188ff)
A young man called Tissa, heir from a wealthy KuEumbiya family of SAvatthE. He renounced a legacy of forty crores and became a monk dwelling in the forest. His younger brother’s wife who had inherited the wealth in his place was afraid that he might give up his vocation as a monk and come home asking for his fortune back. She could not sleep in peace and therefore decided to send five hundred ruffians to kill him. The ruffians went to where Tissa was meditating in the forest and surrounded him. Tissa asked them why they had come. The ruffians replied that they had come to kill him. He didn’t resist but begged them to spare his life for one further night (to give him enough time to strive for enlightenment). The ruffians asked who would guarantee that he would not run away in the night. Because there was no one else who could be his witness, he picked up a stone and used it to break both his own thigh-bones as a token that he would not attempt to escape — asking them whether that would be sufficient guarantee. The ruffians, however, were not entirely satisfied and built a fire nearby at the place where the monk normally did his walking meditation and slept there. During the night he overcame his pain and, reflecting on the purity of his own self-discipline, meditated for the whole of the night to become an arahant at dawn.
A Mind Invulnerable to Worldly Vicissitudes
D.3 Ex. Lakuมฮaka Bhaddhiya Thera
Bhaddiya was one of the bhikkhus staying at the Jetavana monastery. Because of his short and childlike stature, he was known as LakuAIaka (the dwarf). LakuAIaka Bhaddiya was very good-natured— even young bhikkhus would often tease him
by pulling his nose or his ears or by patting him on the head. Very often they would jokingly say, ‘Uncle, how are you? Are you happy, or are you bored with your life here as a bhikkhu?’ Bhaddiya never retaliated in anger or abused them. In fact, he was always serene and pleasing to the eye. When told about the patience of Bhaddiya, the Buddha said, ‘An arahant never loses his temper, he has no desire to speak harshly or to think ill of others. He is like a mountain of solid rock. As a solid
rock is not shakeable by wind so also, an arahant is unperturbed by scorn or by praise.’ Only then did the other monks come to know that Bhaddiya had long before attained arahantship and was invulnerable to worldly vicissitudes.
D.1 Metaphor: Monkey-trap
In the olden days, hunters had an ingenious way to catch monkeys. They would leave a piece of wood covered in glue lying next to a fruit tree. Monkeys eating the fruit would accidentally touch the sticky wood and its hand would get stuck firmly to the wood. Next, it would try to pull the wood off using its other hand — but the other hand would get stuck to the wood as well. Accordingly, it would try to kick its hands-free with one foot — but its foot would get stuck to the wood. Of course, it would try to kick its hands-free with the other foot — but its other foot would get stuck to the wood as well. There was only one more thing it could do — to try to bite itself free. It would try to bite the wood, but its mouth would get stuck to the wood. Finally, it would roll around in a ball on the ground and wait for the hunter to come and collect it. When talking of falling in love, people are no more sensible than birds or monkeys. The expression on the face of the trapped monkey and the expression on the face of a jilted lover are exactly the same . . .
D.2 Ex. Mallika Sutta (S.i.75)
Queen Mallika was the favorite queen of King Pasenadi of Kosala — and a woman renowned for her wisdom. One day the king asked his queen, “Who do you love the most in the world?” In his mind he wanted the queen to answer, “You of course!” The queen answered after a great deal of deliberation, “I have been thinking about your question and I observe that all the animals in the world love themselves above all others — and I think that I am just the same!”
Freedom from Subtle Defilements
C.1 Metaphor: Droplet of water on a lily pad
Just as a droplet of water skates around on a lily pad without sticking — for those who have attained Nirvana, even the subtlest of defilements can no longer attach to the mind.
C.2 Ex. Monks overestimate their attainment
In the time of the Buddha, there was a group of monks who had been practicing in isolation in the forest, keeping their Precepts strictly and practicing hard. They had been practicing for so long that they became convinced that they had already overcome all the defilements in their mind. They thought they had no remaining greed, hatred, or delusion. All the monks felt fulfilled and left their practice in the forest to return to the temple. They planned to visit the Buddha. The Buddha knew through his meditation that this group of monks had overestimated their attainment and in fact had still not reached an end of defilements! The Buddha told Nanda to wait for the monks at the gate of the temple and tell them to go to stay in the cemetery instead of coming to see the Buddha immediately. In the cemetery, there was the corpse of a beautiful woman who had just recently died. When the monks saw the corpse of the woman they would be attracted by her (former) beauty. The monks would then know that there were still subtle defilements remaining in their minds and they would know that they needed to practice further. In this case, without the right circumstances to magnify the subtle defilements into a recognizable emotion, the small defilements in the minds of these monks had remained hidden without them realizing it.
C.3 Ex. The Revenge of the KÅÒÈ Ogress
Once there was a householder whose wife was barren. Being unable to bear a child and afraid that she would be mistreated by her husband or her mother-in-law, with the best of intentions she arranged for her husband to marry a second woman. In spite of her original goodwill, on two occasions, as soon as she knew the second wife was pregnant, the barren wife gave the other food mixed with miscarriage-inducing drugs. When it came to the woman’s third attempt, she kept the pregnancy secret. However, when the barren wife came to know about it, again she caused an abortion. Eventually, the second wife died in childbirth. Before her death, the unfortunate woman was filled with hatred and vowed vengeance on the barren wife and her future offspring. Thus the feud started. Next lifetime, the second wife was born as a villager near SÅvatthÈ. She kept a hen (the barren wife of the previous existence) and every time it laid an egg, the woman would destroy it. The hen became very angry and as a result, it was reborn as a cat and the woman was reborn as a hen in the same house. The cat ate up the eggs of the hen. In their next existence, the hen became a leopard and the cat became a deer. The leopard ate up the deer as well as its offspring. Thus their feud continued for several existences. When it came to the time of the Buddha, one of them was born as a woman and the other as an ogress [yakkhiÁÈ]. On one occasion, the woman was returning from the house of her parents to her own house near SÅvatthÈ accompanied by her husband and young son. While they were resting by a roadside pond, her husband left her to bathe himself. During his absence, the woman was approached by the ogress in human guise. Despite, the ogress’s transmutation, the woman still recognized her —and fled with her child straight to the monastery where the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma. She put her child at the Buddha’s feet. The ogress, in hot pursuit of the woman, was unable to enter the monastery. Nonetheless, the Buddha summoned the ogress to his presence. He admonished both of them for their long and bitter feud, ‘If you two had not come to me today, your enmity would have continued endlessly. Enmity cannot be appeased by enmity; it can only be appeased further by loving-kindness.’ Reflecting on the admonition, both realized the futility of their hatred, admitted their mistakes, and resolved to help each other mutually from that day on instead of continuing with their senseless feud.
The Blissful Mind
D.1 Metaphor: Released prisoner
Whenever a prisoner is released from confinement and can escape the reach of instruments of torture, the freedom he feels will bring him happiness that fills both his body and mind. In the same way, those who attain Nirvana who have escaped the touch of all defilements and fetters will also have a mind suffused with bliss.
D.2 Ex. MahÅ-Kappina Thera (J.iv.180, A.i.25, SN.A.ii.440, Vsm.393)
Once, during the time of the Buddha, a king called Maha-Kappina with his queen Anoja reigned in the frontier kingdom of KukkhuÊavatÈ. Every morning, Maha-Kappina would send out messengers from the four gates of the city to seek news from passing traders as to the arising of an Enlightened One in the world.
One day, after the Buddha had arisen in the world, a group of traders from Savatthi were visiting Kukkhutavati. They told King Maha-Kappina of the arising of the Buddha. Just hearing the word ‘Buddha’ King Maha-Kappina swooned from rapture. The traders mentioned the word ‘Buddha’ a total of three times — the king swooning each time he heard the word — and the same happened when the traders mentioned the arising of the Dhamma and the SaÌgha — he swooned a total of nine times.
Without further ado, the king renounced the throne and after rewarding the merchants handsomely, left the palace in search of the Buddha, accompanied by all his ministers. The group set off in the direction of Savatthi, but in their way were three rivers that they must cross on horseback: the Aravaccha, the Nilavahana and the Candabhaga. Each time they reached the bank of one of the rivers, Maha-Kappina would make an act of truth saying “if the teacher for whom we are seeking is truly a fully-enlightened Buddha, let not even the hooves of our horses be wetted when crossing the river”. Miraculously, the river became temporarily solid like land, allowing Maha-Kappina and his ministers to cross to the other side. In this manner, they crossed the three rivers.
In his meditation, the Buddha perceived Maha-Kappina’s approach and traveled through the air to the banks of the Candabhaga where he seated himself under a Banyan tree facing them and sent forth radiance as a signal to Maha-Kappina. When Maha-Kappina and retinue met up with the Buddha and paid respect, the Buddha taught them the Dhamma and they eventually became arahants, joining the order of monks.
Anoja and her courtiers renounced the world in a similar way and crossed the three rivers as their husbands had done to meet the Buddha. The Buddha made the women’s husbands invisible to them so that they would be no distraction as he preached the Dhamma — and the women too could become stream-enterers, entering the order under Uppalavanna Bhikkhuni.
Maha-Kappina Thera spent his days in the ecstasy of deep meditation and was so full of happiness that he constantly repeated the words ‘Oh! The Happiness. Oh! The Happiness’ [aho sukham aho sukham] made the other monks suspect that he was longing for the pleasures of kingship he had left behind until the Buddha dispelled their doubts.